Update on Eastern Market Metro Park Redesign – Controversy over Traffic Plan

Most recent rendering of the plan for redesign of Eastern Market Metro Park (click to enlarge) 

Residents expressed skepticism about the reversal of traffic flow on D Street, north of Pennsylvania Avenue.

Playground equipment options.

Update on Eastern Market Metro Park Redesign – Controversy over Traffic Plan

By Larry Janezich

Last Thursday night the Department of General Services (DGS) updated the community on the development of Eastern Market Metro Park. The format of the meeting included a brief overview of the status of the project, after which attendees broke up into three separate discussion groups: traffic, construction, and materials and finishes.

It was apparent from the crowd at the traffic discussion group that the most controversial aspect of the plan is the proposal to reverse the flow of traffic on D Street on the north side of Pennsylvania Avenue and closing the so-called “slip Lane” in front of Trader Joe’s which allows west bound traffic on D Street to merge onto Pennsylvania Avenue after crossing 8th Street.  The plan – following a concept developed years ago by architect Amy Weinstein – was incorporated into the current design by DGS. Residents of Southeast Capitol Hill say this will increase result in significant backups of southbound traffic on 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th streets for those seeking access to Pennsylvania Avenue.  The traffic plan is still awaiting final approval.

Also of considerable interest to the community was the type of playground equipment for the playground.  That decision will be made by the DGS design team – perhaps as early as mid-January – after soliciting input from the community on line or by email.  The options regarding components of the playground installation will be on line at the website (link below), but as of this writing are not currently available.

Regarding construction, the permitting process is in progress and final approval of the plan is expected within the next 45 days.  There have been three significant changes to the plan over the past several months:  shade structures have been added to the playground, the playground on parcel one has been shifted to the south to avoid damage to the critical root zones of trees bordering D Street on the north side of Pennsylvania Avenue, and an entertainment/performance pavilion has been added to parcel 4 near the Metro entrance.

The construction time line has slipped a little on phase 1 of the two-phase process.  Phase 1 (playground and preliminary work around the Metro entrance on Parcel 4) will start in the early spring of 2020 and end by the fall of 2020. Phase 2 – parcels 2, 3, 4, 5 &6 – will launch in October of 2020, with completion forecast for April of 2021.

Upon completion, DGS will assume day-to-day maintenance of the redesigned plaza and the Department of Transportation will assume maintenance of everything in the public right-of-way. The Capitol Hill Bid will continue to maintain the park with respect to trash and litter.

Additional information, as well as the power point presentation from Thursday night’s community meeting are here:  https://dgs.dc.gov/page/eastern-market-metro-park-project


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22 responses to “Update on Eastern Market Metro Park Redesign – Controversy over Traffic Plan

  1. No slip lanes

    Please close the slip lanes. I hope these complaints will not halt this. We need to move away from car centric planning.

    • JR

      The slip lanes help pedestrians and are better for those using the park.

    • JR

      The slip lanes help to divert cars away from the park instead of adding congestion going through the park. Taking away the slip lanes is not people friendly.

  2. kandc

    Just so every side is heard from: I am completely in favor of the reversal of direction on D Street and closing the “slip lane” in front of Trader Joe’s. These both make perfect sense. I am also in favor of reversing the direction of D Street on the south side, next to parcel 4, which also makes a lot of sense. All of these changes are very pedestrian friendly and will ease traffic congestion.

    • JR

      How do you think reversing D Street and closing the slips would ease traffic or be pedestrian friendly? I think they would do the opposite. (See my comments below.)

      • kandc

        I don’t see your comments below, except about parking–and parking will remain on D Street. As to safety for pedestrians on the slip lane: if you are walking eastward on the north side of Penn. Ave (or westward on the south side) and crossing the slip lane, drivers are looking the other way to merge into Penn and do not see you trying to cross in front of them (a clear danger).

        As to reversing D Street, on the south side of Penn it will make it eliminate watching out for drivers turning or crossing on Eighth–there will be the problem of people turning left into D Street there, but I believe that the crosswalk on Eight and D should be put on the north side of D instead of the south (then there would no problem with the left turns). The similar thing should be done on D Street on the north side.

        Both of these changes will make it much safer for pedestrians.

      • JR

        It’s about tradeoffs. You talk about crossing the crossing slip lane on Pennsylvania, but what about people crossing Pennsylvania or 8th or walking down 8th Street, D Street, and South Carolina. If you are trying to walk from the playground parcel to the metro parcel, you now have many more cars at the intersection of 8th/PA because the slips are gone to prevent cars from entering the intersection. If you are walking westward down D/South Carolina toward the playground, the reversal means you are now confronted with cars coming toward you that were not otherwise entering the neighborhood. If you are walking south down 8th Street toward the playground on the east side, you now have cars turning left toward you when you are trying to cross D. The current design is more park/pedestrian friendly because it keeps cars flowing away from the park instead of through it.

      • kandc

        See ET comments

  3. James

    Why not just close both D Streets?

    • JR

      I’ve heard that the people who live on D Street need street parking because they don’t have parking in their alley.

  4. W

    I don’t understand why the D St slip lane north of PA can (and should) be closed while the D St. Slip lane to the south is planned to remain open. Why not close both for consistency and prioritizing pedestrians over cars? (ed. note. The proposed plan would reverse the flow of traffic on these two blocks of D Street and close both slip lanes. Sorry for not making that clear.)

  5. muskellunge

    As a pedestrian through this block, my main concern is turning traffic, either from Pennsylvania or from 8th. For example, for traffic going west on Pennsylvania turning right, north on 8th, the cars nail the people crossing 8th at D near the bus stop going to TJ. Seen a lot of close calls for that. Drivers with a green light will yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk next to Pennsylvania, but they don’t look that far up 8th after they take a turn, and 15 yards from the intersection (where D crosses 8th) is where they would normally hit the gas out of a turn.

    As it stands, as a walker I find the traffic on D on either side not a problem, because it is quite slow and light. Reversing the flow will will make these streets effectively parking, and indeed will back up South Carolina, 7th, and 9th. It would not help the pedestrians, but aggravate the drivers.

  6. Don't Reverse D; Keep the Slip Lanes

    I’m against the reversal of D Street above the upper parcel because too many cars stopped at the traffic light heading south on 8th street will choose to take a left on D and up South Carolina, instead of waiting for the light to turn left on Pennsylvania. This will bring too much traffic into residential neighborhood streets east of the park and toward pedestrians and children walking southwest on South Carolina toward the park.
    Keep the slip streets. The slip streets are pedestrian friendly and park user friendly because they keep traffic flowing on to Pennsylvania instead of having all the traffic backed up with exhaust fumes filling the park area.

    • ET

      This sounds like you don’t want any change at all? If that is the case make positive arguments not everything but the kitchen sink arguments.

      Personally I don’t have a dog in this fight, but I don’t find the argument about the slip lanes being pedestrian friendly to be convincing at all because I don’t understand how they are more pedestrian friendly now and less friendly under the proposed changes. Maybe I am just not understanding the proposed changes.

      As for the exhaust fumes argument, this makes little sense because Pennsylvania Avenue is yards away not blocks, and borders the park.

      • kandc

        I have to say that I think the worry that cars will turn left on to D Street from Eighth north of Penn, is way overheated. It will be so difficult and take so long to make that turn that no one will do it more than once, unless they are residents. It will be much easier to turn left to Penn.

      • JR

        I don’t see how it could be difficult or take time to turn left on to D. They’re waiting at a red light, and many of them are heading to 295, which the reversal design will allow them to do by heading up South Carolina toward RFK instead of having to go down Pennsylvania. It will put too much traffic onto residential streets where people are walking toward the park.

      • kandc

        JR: See ET comments

  7. Al

    It looks like they are completely removing a lane on both sides of Pennsylvania to add the bike lane. This is a terrible idea – they should take space from the median. With parking on the right side of Pennsylvania and people not knowing how to properly turn left, that will end up making Pennsylvania a one-lane street.(ed. note. DDOT’s plan is to take the parking lane. The median belongs to the National Park Service.)

    • kandc

      Wow. Take away green space for car traffic from outside the city–That is just so contrary to all urban planning best practices. Plus, taking one lane away will make Penn. Ave. consistent with the width of the road on the other side of Sousa Bridge, all the way to the District line.
      And, they need to make the bike lane separate and isolated–just putting in striping will not do it. That is just too dangerous.

      • Sally M

        Yes, I can’t think of anything better than narrowing Penn. Ave. I’ve had buses zoom past me at truly frightening speeds. We need the green space of the median, but the bike lanes should be protected ones between the curb and the parking.

    • W

      the bike lane and a road diet for PA Ave are way overdue, but its proposed location adjacent to the median is a terrible idea. It should b curbside with remaining parking pushed towards median. Buses making left turns at 8th present a terrible hazard to cyclists. The images DOT has presented do not show PA bike lane as protected either, and cars drive way too fast on PA